The Association of Convenience Stores has lodged a complaint to the Office of Fair Trading in its battle for fairer contacts between the Post Office Ltd and subpostmasters.

Described as a “ground-breaking complaint”, it could signal an end to the charges by Post Office Ltd on National Lottery commission and to restrictions on retail businesses.

David Rae, chief executive of the ACS, said: “Small shops are no longer prepared to accept the treatment they receive from the giant that is the Post Office Ltd. This case is simply about giving subpostmasters the opportunity to make a living.

“At present, retailers are restricted in a range of activities, and are forced

to give up revenue to effectively subsidise Post Office Ltd.”

The case has been developed with input from independent subpostmasters and multiple c-store chains. The ACS complaint comes at a time when the future of the Post Office network is under scrutiny, and just three weeks after the Post Office regulator Postcomm drew attention to the unfairness of the contract.

“The government and the public wishes to see a viable network of post offices serving the community,” said Rae.

“The contract as it stands undermines the network by giving a disincentive to retailers to incorporate the post office in their stores. As far as convenience retailers are concerned, this case is long overdue and we are

optimistic of a positive hearing from the OFT.”